From May 12 to 15, thousands of audio pros visited Amsterdam for the 110th convention of the Audio Engineering Society (www.aes.org). Besides the obvious pleasures of Europe's favorite fun town, AES Amsterdam offered plenty of hot new products. Here are some highlights.
Tascam's (www.tascam.com) $8,999 SX-1, is a one-piece workstation combining a fully automated 40×8 digital console, DSP effects, 16-track disk recorder/editor and a 128-track MIDI sequencer. For more details, see the “Technology Spotlight” in last month's issue of Mix.
The Neumann (www.neumann.com) D-01 digital mic features a proprietary 28-bit A/D converter that's fed directly from the capsule (thus removing an analog electronics stage) and provides remote control of polar pattern, pre-attenuation, low-cut and preamplification. The mic connects directly to gear supporting the AES 42-2001 standard. Alternatively, Neumann's DMI-2 half-rack, 2-channel interface converts the AES 42-2001 format into a standard stereo AES/EBU signal. Included software can adjust all D-01 parameters via the DMI-2's USB connection. Sample rates of up to 192 kHz will be supported in the future; initial deliveries should begin around late 2001.
The Digilyzer DL1 from Neutrik Test Instruments (www.nt-instruments.com) is a handheld device for analyzing/trouble-shooting consumer and pro digital audio signals, from eight to 24 bits and 32 to 96 kHz. Connections include AES3, co-ax S/PDIF and optical Toslink — consumer or ADAT — or (optional) TDIF. The DL1 has a monitor speaker, headphone connection and internal event logger, and performs digital audio analysis, carrier status analysis and carrier signal measurement functions.
While consumers decide the outcome of the SACD/DTS/DVD-Audio issue, DTS (www.dtsonline.com) came out strong with the debut of its new, fully compatible 24-bit/96kHz format with numerous titles planned for release in 2001. But whatever the outcome of the consumer format wars, audio manufacturers were moving ahead with new professional tools for 2.8224MHz DSD (Direct Stream Digital) production, which offers superb digital audio reproduction for recording/mixing/mastering. The Genex GX8500 (www.hhbusa.com) is an 8-channel recorder for storing both 5.1 and stereo mixes, with switchable PCM or DSD capability. Tascam (www.tascam.com) will begin shipping its DSD-98 high-resolution recorder, based on 8mm DTRS tape and operating as either a 2-channel DSD recorder or an 8-track PCM deck, with the ability to lock 16 transports for more tracks. SADiE (www.sadie.com) celebrated its 10th birthday by showing its DSD Mastering Workstation. Designed for mastering stereo DSD material and authoring finished SACD masters, the unit features all standard editing functions and full dynamics and equalization control. Noted classical recordist Tony Faulkner has taken delivery of the first system.
Edimix from Publison (www.publison.fr) is a medium-format digital console with 48 channels, 24 buses and eight aux sends, with automation of all parameters. An integrated 32-track hard disk recorder/editor is optional. The first all-digital board from D&R Electronics (www.d-r.nl), Sirius is a 32-channel modular digital console designed for on-air or broadcast production, featuring onboard dynamics and EQ and a routing system with up to 64 I/Os. The mixer is also available as Scorpius, with the same processing power but in a smaller frame.
ANALOG: BIG TIME!
There was plenty of new digital gear at the show, but analog technology was alive and well. Designed for surround mixing/mastering, Drawmer's (www.drawmer.com) Six-Pack 6-channel multidynamics processor allows linking any combination of channels to track each other's levels to prevent image shift. Also, channel 6 has a switchable 120Hz LP filter for deriving an LFE output from a 5-channel surround mix.
SPL's (www.soundperformancelab.com) PQ 2050 analog, dual-channel, 5-band parametric EQ offers 999 memory presets with digital control via motorized pots. Dynamic range is spec'd at 150 dB, and optional PCM and DSD I/O modules will be offered.
SLAM! (Stereo Limiter And MicPre) from Manley Labs (www.manleylabs.com) is a 2-channel unit combining an ELOP electro-optical limiter, fast FET brick wall limiter, Class-A tube mic preamp and 24-bit/96kHz ADC on each channel. I/Os include inserts and surround linking. Price: $3,250, and a mastering version (sans mic preamps) is offered.
The $495 Platinum Penta stereo compressor from Focusrite (www.focusrite.com) offers 16 selectable presets over threshold, ratio, attack, release and makeup gain parameters. Soft knee compression, TubeTran warmth control and a stereo image width control adds flexibility. An optional 16/24-bit A/D converter outputs 44.1/48/88.2/96 kHz into AES/EBU or S/PDIF.
CLM Dynamics (www.wavedistribution.com) showed the $2,295 DB8000s, a slick unit with eight high-grade mic preamps, ADAT digital output, onboard M/S mic decoding and switchable overload protection limiters. Three analog outputs per channel are offered, allowing the unit to double as an active mic splitter in live recording, P.A. or broadcast applications.
Jointly developed with TC Electronic (www.tcelectronic.com), Dynaudio Acoustics' (www.dynaudioacoustics.com) AIR Series of “intelligent” monitors integrate DSP, networking capability and digital amplification; and they provide preset storage/recall and fingertip control of level, bass management and solo/mute of individual monitors. Slated for Q4 2001, the first AIR Series bi-amped near-fields combine 6.5-inch (AIR6) or 9-inch (AIR15) woofers with 1.1-inch soft dome tweeters. Options include subwoofers and a software package with advanced EQ/delay tools for consultants/installers.
Mackie's (www.mackie.com) HR120 is a THX-approved, 800-watt powered sub to complement its award-winning HR828 monitors for surround mixing. Shipments are slated for Q3/01.
A.D.A.M. Audio (www.adam-audio.de) monitors feature Accelerated Ribbon Technology (folded diaphragm) tweeters based on the 1972 work of Dr. Oscar Heil, but with improved, newer materials. U.S. distribution is via www.mccave.com, and the A.D.A.M. line ranges from the compact two-way S1A to the gargantuan 3,000-watt, four-way S8As. I was particularly impressed with the S3A, a bi-amped design with an ART tweeter flanked by dual 7-inch woofers. Nice!
Tom Misner — audio educator and founder of SAE (www.sae.edu), the world's largest audio school — unveiled SAE's TM 160A, a compact, active near-field speaker. Its oblong, diecast-aluminum enclosure (no parallel surfaces) houses two back-to-back, 6-inch, full range drivers in a push-pull arrangement, driven by dual 150-watt amps, for point-source imaging. Deliveries begin this summer.
The 111th AES Convention comes to New York September 21-24, and then it's back to Munich next spring for the 112th show, held May 11-14, 2002. See you there!